German players covered their mouths during their team photo before their opening World Cup match in protest of FIFA banning OneLove armbands.
The German Football Association (DFB) told captain Manuel Neuer not to wear the rainbow armband for Wednesday’s match against Japan after FIFA warned he would face “massive” sporting sanctions if he wears the armband that promotes diversity and inclusion. .
Germany head coach Hansi Flick said his players wanted to “send the message that FIFA is silencing us”.
They will not face disciplinary action from FIFA for their pre-match.
DFB takes FIFA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over OneLove armband ban.
A CAS ruling against the ban’s validity means Neuer can wear the armband for Germany’s second group game against Spain on Sunday.
A special ad hoc division of CAS set up for this World Cup aims to make decisions within 48 hours of receiving an application.
Seated close to FIFA President Gianni Infantino in the VIP box, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Pfizer wore a OneLove armband in support of the national team.
The Football Association has refused to comment on whether it will follow Germany’s lead and make a ‘shut up’ gesture ahead of England’s next game against the United States.
The DFB lost a commercial partner on Tuesday when German supermarket chain REWE ended its sponsorship deal over the armband dispute.
Lionel Zook, chief executive of REWE, said: “We stand for diversity and football is about diversity. FIFA’s disgraceful behavior is absolutely unacceptable to me as the CEO of a diverse company as well as a football fan.”
The news came after the DFB claimed that teams planning to wear the OneLove armband during their matches had been subjected to “extreme blackmail”.
DFB media director Stefan Simon said Deutschlandfunk radio that England, who were the first team to plan to wear it, have been threatened with multiple sporting sanctions.
“The tournament director went to the English team and talked about multiple violations of the rules and threatened to impose massive game sanctions without specifying what these were,” he said.
Simon, who did not say whether he was referring to the Qatari organizers or FIFA when referring to the tournament director, said the other Six Nations had decided to “show solidarity” with England and not wear it.
“We have lost the armband. It is very painful, but we are people with values as before. We are not frauds who betray them because we have values,” he said.
“We were in an extreme situation, under extreme blackmail, and we thought we had to make that decision without having to.”
FA and FAW retain plans for LGBTQ+ support in Qatar
The FA and FAW have not abandoned their plans to display a message of support for the LGBTQ+ community at the World Cup in Qatar – despite backing down from a row with FIFA over the OneLove armband.
Hours before the start of England’s opener against Iran, high-profile discussions took place before the FA conceded defeat and decided Harry Kane should not wear the rainbow-coloured heart-shaped badge.
FIFA threatened “sporting sanctions” if Kane or any of the seven other European nations involved wore the armband.
Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations states: “For FIFA Finals, the captain of each team shall wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.”
Sky Sports News has been told that FIFA officials wearing the OneLove armband is in direct breach of its rules and, if allowed, will set a precedent for other nations to wear whatever political message they want on the armband.
And, despite reports that Kane has been charged for wearing a non-FIFA armband, Sky Sports News understands the sanctions could actually be much stronger – possibly a one-match ban.
FIFA described itself as an “inclusive organisation” when contacted by Sky Sports News, and president Gianni Infantino has reiterated his support for the LGBTQI+ community during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
“I have spoken to the highest leadership of the country on this subject,” Infantino said.
“They have confirmed and I can confirm that everyone is welcome. If anyone says the opposite, it is not the opinion of the country and it is certainly not the opinion of FIFA.”
But FA officials are known to be furious at the late decision on whether or not they can wear the OneLove armband, which embarrassed them after committing to wear any punishment they receive.
If it was a threatened financial penalty, the FA was prepared to accept it. But on Monday, they felt it was unfair to risk Kane’s involvement in the tournament to keep their promise and take a stand.
There have been suggestions that perhaps Gareth Southgate could wear the OneLove armband on the touchline for the next game against the USA, again this will be approved by FIFA.
Another option would be for Kane or other England players to wear the armband in front of the cameras during training.
There was no comment from the FA on either of those occasions.
The FAW felt it had been cornered by FIFA on Monday by making it as clear as England since September that the Wales captain will wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup.
After a 1-1 draw with the USA in their opening game on Monday, the FAW intends to discuss how it can send and display a different message to replace the OneLove idea. But nothing definite has been decided.
The FAW is deeply disappointed and dismayed by FIFA’s late intervention on the armband issue.
FIFA confirmed the ban on discrimination from the quarter-finals, which is planned to give all 32 captains the chance to wear the gear at the tournament.
European groups jointly consider legal options
‘FIFA deliberately ignored two months of criticism’
Sky Sports News Correspondent Rob Dorsett speaking on the Sky Sports World Cup Podcast:
“It will still be a big story from here on out; We talk about football as well as the political situation surrounding this World Cup, let’s be honest.
“The English FA, the Welsh FA and all the other FAs in other European countries went to FIFA with this and wrote to them more than two months ago. They put forward this idea in September and FIFA did not respond.
“FIFA has been heavily criticized for it, leaving it until the last minute. FIFA came to England, Wales and other nations yesterday (Monday) to say it was impossible.
“My understanding is that FIFA did it on purpose because if they refused the request two months ago, FIFA would get a good kicking for the next two months by various groups of supporters who felt it was unfair and it wasn’t. There are, read them’.
“The FA will not accept that and I don’t think any of them will get away with this situation without being fairly criticized.”
Kane: The decision was out of my hands
England captain Harry Kane reiterated that he and his team-mates would continue to stand firm, but admitted that the final decision in the case was not in his hands.
“We were disappointed, we wanted to draw it, the decision was out of my hands. I turned to the stadium with the armband I was wearing and said I wanted to wear it.
“Look, it’s out of our control as players. I’m sure the FA and FIFA will continue those discussions, but the most important thing is that today we focused on the game and got a great result.
“You’ve seen us take a stand as a squad over the last five years and we’ll continue to do that as much as we can. We took a knee today, but sometimes these decisions don’t sit well with us. And that’s the bottom line.”
‘FIFA has let Wales down; ‘Welsh FA furious’
Sky Sports News Correspondent Geraint Hughes speaking on the Sky Sports World Cup Podcast:
“The FAW are fuming. They’re really not happy. They’ve made it very clear that they want to wear the OneLove armband and they’ve been trying for two months to get an answer from FIFA on whether they’ll be allowed to wear it legally.
“They thought, like everyone else, the rules meant they could be fined. They had no idea of the possibility of a yellow card or even the possibility of FIFA’s disciplinary committee imposing a one-match ban.
“It all happened, certainly on the morning of the matches, both in England and Wales. They were really angry, angry – not just the senior executives, but right across the FAW. FIFA let them down.”
Van Dijk on the armband: I didn’t risk getting booked
Virgil van Dijk has hit back at claims the Netherlands and other countries lack a backbone in the Armband controversy against discrimination.
Netherlands captain Van Dijk told the Dutch broadcaster NOS: “I’m playing in a position where the yellow card doesn’t help. I was a football player and I want to play this kind of tournament.
“There are people who say we have no backbone, but we don’t,” added the Liverpool defender.
“We just want to play football. I would like to play with that band, but not at the cost of a yellow card.”